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Artist's rendering of the new Churchville Nature Center
Why does Churchville need a new Nature Center?
Forty years ago, Bucks County was home to rolling farmland, dense forest and extensive wildlife. In the time that has elapsed since Churchville Nature Center (CNC) opened its doors in 1964, much of the unspoiled natural beauty and open space that once surrounded the Center is now gone. Lower Bucks County is almost completely built out, with CNC numbering among the very few remaining open space refuges. Farmersí fields are now neighborhoods. Peaceful brooks have been channeled into underground pipes. What was once a welcoming habitat for a plethora of animal life has now grown still with their absence.
With the County having lost so much open space, its few publicly protected open spaces have become more valuable than ever. Whether looking for a safe, well-maintained woods in which to discover the natural environment with their children, or simply viewing CNCís pristine property while driving by, Bucks County residents recognize what a valuable resources CNC is protecting and want to ensure that the centerís natural beauty remains untouched.
As an advocate for responsible stewardship of environmental resources, CNC works to insure the protection of Bucks Countyís finite natural open space. Through educational and interactive activities, CNC works to instill an appreciation of the natural world on a very personal level. Education lies at the heart of CNCís mission because education leads to awareness and greater stewardship, and responsible stewardship begins ďat home.Ē
CNCís educational goals are being hindered, however, by the space limitations of its 30 year old facility. Over the course of the last 12 years, CNC attendance has increased by 500%. CNC has adopted creative approaches to working within the constraints of its aged facility to continue to meet mounting community demand for environmental education programs and services. Despite CNCís efforts, its 30 year old building cannot continue to support the 25,000 school children and 95,000 visitors annually to the Center.
An expanded, green nature center will deepen community membersí understanding of and appreciation for stewardship, by making the natural environment readily accessible to a larger number of residents of Bucks County and beyond. Churchville Nature Center plans to renovate 1,000 square feet of its current nature center and construct a new 5,500 square foot addition to the Center. The new, expanded Nature Center will:
- Complement the aesthetics of the existing building;
- Create a unique environment that welcomes and engages visitors;
- Incorporate green technology and environmental education components into the construction and design of the building such that the building itself is an exhibit;
- Be well integrated into the natural environment such that it will have minimal visual impact from the road and for people using the park; and
- Serve as an educational center, community gathering place and teaching tool for environmentally responsible green design.
The nature center renovation and expansion will create a better home for schools, community groups, families and elderly and disabled residents of Bucks County to:
- participate in environmental education;
- engage in interactive exhibits;
- learn about renewable energy; and
- explore a network of handicapped-accessible trails that begin and end at the Center.
CNCís capital project will be implemented in three phases over a three year period and cost approximately $2,300,000. Phase 1 Cost will be approximately $1,260,000.
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Churchville Nature Centerís New Green Building Expansion
Green buildings avoid or minimize negative impacts on the environment by conserving and using natural resources efficiently. A green building facilitates ecological harmony and respect for biodiversity in relation to buildings and architecture. Churchville Nature Centerís New Green Building will incorporate green and sustainable design features, which will allow it to become LEED certified. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and is a nationally recognized green building rating system formulated by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide a national standard for what constitutes a green building.
Some of the key green features of Churchvilleís new Nature Center will include:
- Geo-thermal (Exchange) Heating & Cooling
- Natural Daylighting & Solar Panels
- Earth Sheltering & Native Landscaping
- Green Vegetated Roof
- Grey Water Use & Water Efficient Fixtures
- Reduced Building Footprint
- Environmentally Friendly Products
Inside Our New Building
Discovery And Research Room
The Discovery and Research Room is a special room designed to feed the curious minds of our visitors. Here a visitor can relax and observe birds at the feeders, or parents can actively explore a variety of collections with their children, from gems and minerals to seeds and eggs.
Hands-On Educational Room, Watershed Research Lab & Live Animals
As CNC has grown, so has the demand for educational programs, with the centerís grounds playing host to 25,000 children yearly. The increased educational space and adjoining laboratory will allow for more flexibility, scientific exploration and research by our visiting students. Adjoining these rooms are the live animals used in the centerís programs to give students an up-close, personal connection with wildlife.
Green Building Demonstration Hall
One of the most exciting features of the new building expansion is the Green Building Demonstration Hall. Here visitors can learn more about the green technologies utilized in the centerís new addition under the sun-lit, airy heights of the cooling tower. Here visitors can view grey water flowing from rain collection tanks for use in flushing toilets, or view displays lit by energy collected by the solar panels on top of the cooling tower.
Great Exhibit Hall & Welcome Center
As visitors enter the Churchville Nature Centerís Great Exhibit Hall and Welcome Center, they are met with a variety of captivating hands-on exhibits that will inform and prepare them for their journey out onto the centerís grounds. This area will also be the information hub for the center, where visitors can learn about all of the nature centerís programs and services, along with a friendly face to answer any of their questions.
Community Lecture Hall
This larger, multi-use community room is designed to handle large groups for a variety of programs and functions, to meet the ever growing need for program and community space for evening slide shows, workshops and community organizations.